OAKLAND (BCN) — Oakland’s community and economic development committee voted 3-1 Tuesday to approve spending up to $750,000 to conduct an environmental impact study for a new baseball stadium for the Oakland A’s along the city’s waterfront.
The environmental report will face another hurdle when it goes before the full Oakland City Council next Tuesday night, but Mayor-elect Jean Quan said she thinks there are enough votes for it to win final approval at that time.
The proposed site for a 39,000-seat baseball stadium is a few blocks south of Jack London Square and is called Victory Square.
It’s bounded by Oak Street to the west, the Embarcadero to the south, the Lake Merritt Channel to the east and Interstate Highway 880 to the north.
City of Oakland officials say that if the stadium is built, adjacent development will include up to 180,000 square feet of retail, 540,000 square feet of office space, and up to 700 residential dwelling units.
The lone vote against spending money to do the report was cast by City Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente, the vice chair of the board that oversees the Oakland Coliseum, where the A’s currently play their games.
“I think it’s a huge mistake for us to do this,” De La Fuente said, unless the city gets a commitment from A’s owner Lew Wolff and Major League Baseball that the team will stay in Oakland.
Baseball commissioner Bud Selig appointed a committee in March 2009 to study whether the team should stay in Oakland or move to San Jose or Fremont, but the committee is still studying the issue and hasn’t made any recommendations so far.
Wolff previously proposed two possible stadium sites in Fremont, and currently is considering building a stadium in San Jose.
“I don’t think the study will only cost $750,000,” De La Fuente said. “It probably will be $4 million or $5 million, and the taxpayers will have to pay for it.”
But City Council President Jane Brunner said that if the city doesn’t conduct an environmental impact report, “We can’t compete” with San Jose and Fremont to be the future home for the A’s.
“Major League Baseball counted us out” in March 2009 as the site for a new stadium for the A’s, Brunner said. But she and other Oakland leaders, including Mayor Ron Dellums, were able to convince baseball officials to include Oakland in their study.
“We need to stay interested,” she said, calling the possibility of building a new baseball stadium “an amazing opportunity.”
City Councilwoman Patricia Kernighan, who also voted for doing the study, said the potential stadium project “is one of the biggest deals in Oakland, and people are very interested in it.”
The other vote for the study was cast by Councilman Larry Reid.
Brunner added an amendment to spend the money for the study as
slowly as possible and halt it if the A’s and Major League Baseball decide to have a new stadium built in another city.
Quan, who isn’t on the committee but attended part of its meeting, said, “If the negotiations (for a new stadium) don’t go forward, we will stop the environmental impact.”
She said any money spent on the report wouldn’t be wasted because the city plans to approve developments in Victory Square even if a new stadium isn’t built.
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